It was early on the morning of 17 May, precisely 186 years after a young, hungover poet had stirred up a crowd consisting of around five thousand supporters with his powerful words about community spirit during the unveiling of the monument to MP Christian Krohg. The monument endured, but the community spirit fell upon hard times.
Light dawns in the village on Norway’s national day. Flags are hoisted, shirts ironed. The lilac trees are on the brink of blossoming and the sky is turning as blue as a budgerigar. People stream out of their houses, each and every one of them in the mood to celebrate. One has returned to the home village to hold a speech, one has steeled themselves for the duties that accompany their position as chair of the 17 May committee. Another is preparing to travel far away, and yet another is trying to rediscover a place to which he has never really belonged.
Many Happy Returns is a story about national pride and the lack thereof, and about the urge to belong – somewhere or other.